Unlawful Assembly Declared at Charlottesville 'Unite the Right Rally'
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency across Virginia Saturday morning after a white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally was broken up as an unlawful assembly. The rally began Friday evening and broke out into violent outbursts with antifa and Black Lives Matter counter-protesters and police.
"I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours," McAuliffe said in a statement. "At 11:28 a.m., the Virginia State Police contacted me to request a state of emergency and I immediately authorized the declaration. ... I agree that the situation in Charlottesville warrants an emergency declaration."
McAuliffe added that "in the days and weeks leading up to this event," his administration "engaged in extensive planning and preparation to ensure that the rally in Charlottesville could be held in a safe and lawful environment." He reported deploying "a large number of state troopers, as well as the Virginia National Guard for support."
Around noon, Charlottesville police declared an "unlawful assembly," and evacuated Justice Park, the site of the rally.
"State police, Charlottesville police, with the assistance of National Guard personnel, moved the crowd through the streets to disperse them," Corinne Geller, Virginia State Police spokeswoman, told Fox News.
"In the crowds, on all sides, they were throwing bottles, they were throwing soda cans with cement in them, they were throwing paint balls, they were fighting — breaking out and attacking one another — launching chemicals into the crowd, and as well as smoke bombs and so forth," she added. "No local or state police had deployed any tear gas."
Geller would not say which side began the violence.
The "Unite the Right" rally in downtown Charlottesville was scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday, and was originally organized to protest the decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the general in charge of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War, from Emancipation Park.